When he stood down in 2018, Thad Cochran was the longest-serving member of Congress, and the 10th-longest-serving member of the Senate in history. A moderate southern Republican (who would “vote like a right-wing extremist when we wanted him to” according to one GOP operative), Cochran was the first Republican to represent the state in the Senate for over 100 years.
He maintained great popularity in his home state thanks to his skills with the fine American art of pork barrelling – always ensuring that the Magnolia State received specialised funding in nationwide bills. His largesse with budgets stayed with him to the end – he found an extra $15 billion for Donald Trump’s first defense budget just last year. That same year he suddenly stepped down from politics due to health issues, which took his life just 14 months later.